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The Meuse-Argonne Offensive 1918
When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the tiny US Army did not even have a standing division. A huge national army worthy of the Western Front was quickly enlisted, trained, and then transported to France to fight against the Germans. In September 1918, the American Expeditionary Force, under General John Pershing, began its first full-scale offensive against German forces in Lorraine, in which the US First Army and (eventually) the US Second Army would drive north between the Argonne Forest and the Meuse river towards Sedan.
The Meuse-Argonne was excellent defensive terrain, being hilly, steep, heavily wooded, and fortified by the Germans over a three-year period. The offensive began on 26 September, 1918. A largely inexperienced US First Army, with mid-level officers including Harry S. Truman, Douglas MacArthur and George Patton, suffered setbacks and heavy casualties during its straight-ahead offensive against a still-potent but fading German Fifth Army. However, by early November, 1.2 million Americans and several hundred thousand French were engaged at the Meuse-Argonne and the Hindenburg Line had been decisively broken. The German withdrawal from Sedan approached a rout and the Americans finally had the Germans on the run until the Armistice ended the offensive on 11 November, 1918. This engaging title tells the full story of this key offensive, illustrating and explaining the troops, weapons and tactics of both the American Expeditionary Force and the German Fifth Army in stunning detail.